Early in the morning April 6, 17 students and two teachers from North Battleford Comprehensive High School were bound for Europe. We left Saskatoon and spent 10 days exploring Italy, Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. After flights, connecting flights and what seemed to be yet more flights, we arrived in Rome, Italy. Within no time, we had befriended our tour director and the other travellers in the group, who had come from New York, North Carolina and Fillmore, Sask.
Our adventure started in Rome, Italy. In two days we packed in many sights like the Roman Colosseum, Vatican City, Sistine Chapel, Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. The first sight was the famous Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. The centuries-old building was full of amazing art. A group favourite was the Colosseum which is best described as massive.
Following a walking tour of the Colosseum, we walked down the road to the Roman forum. The forum was, when created, a very busy place but is now a tourist attraction. The area is beautifully covered in greenery and full of Roman architecture. To finish off the day the group walked to the Spanish steps in Piazza di Spagna. This massive staircase offered a relaxing spot to sit and relax and watch the people pass by.
As we left Rome, heading for Florence, we stopped in Siena and a medieval town called San Gimignano. This town had 15 medieval towers still standing. Instead of heading straight to Florence, we also made a stop in Pisa. Here we were blown away by the sites of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. While in Pisa, we also had a tour of the baptistery and the cathedral. Our next stop was in Florence. In Florence we explored the town on a walking tour, seeing things like a replica of the statue of David and the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge which was literally covered in gold shops.
Once again we were on the move, this time to Verona, then out of the country into Austria. While in Verona we saw the famous statue of Juliet and her balcony. Many of the travellers, as well as hundreds of other people, had written letters to Juliet, which they left on her wall in hopes of hearing back.
As the rain chased us, we headed to Austria for the night. After a refreshing night’s sleep we awoke to a wonderful sunny morning with a breathtaking view of the mountains. The tour this day brought us to Neuschwanstein Castle. This castle is known as the inspiration for Disneyland’s castle of Sleeping Beauty and is truly a wonderful place on earth.
To get to Munich we travelled across the autobahn, a highway with no speed limits. To start off our visit to Munich we went on a bus tour of the city. We saw many things like the Nymphenburg Palace, which was the summer home of the Bavarian royalty, and the glockenspiel, a giant musical piece of art found at the new town hall. It has several life-size figures which act out two stories about Munich’s history and 43 bells which ring at 11 a.m., noon and 5p.m. We watched the glockenspiel and were amazed by the detailed figures as they spun to the music.
Our stop in Munich also took us to the Dachau concentration camp. The camp was shut down 57 years ago, yet it still seemed a very scary and eye-opening place. Many of the travellers found the camp to be one of their favourite places, as it was truly an awakening experience.
The next day we had to say goodbye to our new-found friends, as we were the only ones going on to Prague. After shipping our travel mates off to the airport, we started toward our final destination – Prague, or Praha in Czech. But before we could go to Prague we made one more stop, in Nürnberg. Here you can find the stadium where Adolf Hitler performed many of his speeches. As well as that, we saw a recreation of the Roman Colosseum done by the Nazis.
Once we finally arrived in Prague our walking tour took us to such sites as Charles Bridge, the golden lane and the astrological clock. The golden lane was a series of very small houses on the outer wall of the Prague Castle. These tiny houses were lived in until after the Second World War.
The other really cool place we saw was the Jewish quarter. It was an area Hitler left untouched, so there are many artifacts and jewels kept here. We also visited two synagogues while we were in the Jewish quarter. In one, there were the names of all the Jewish Czech people who lost their lives during the Second World War.
We managed to fit many places into a tight schedule of 10 days. Each of us had experiences of a lifetime. Though we had 10 days, we did not even come close to scraping the surface of what Europe has to offer, and I am sure many of the travellers will return. All in all, this trip was an experience of a lifetime and much fun for the travellers.